University suspends four wrestlers for violating team rules

Police records show that the four wrestlers were implicated in the team's drug ring.

Brian Edwards and Jessie Bekker

Four University of Minnesota wrestlers have been suspended from competition until January, a team spokesman confirmed Wednesday evening.

Redshirt freshman Larry Early and sophomores Ethan Lizak, Tommy Thorn and Brandon Krone will remain on the team but are barred from competition until Jan. 1, 2017 for violating team rules, said Jake Ricker, the team spokesman.

In police documents, the four suspended wrestlers were named by an informant as drug dealers. Ten other wrestlers were identified as drug users in the University of Minnesota Police Department investigation documents.

When reached for comment Wednesday evening, Krone denied any involvement in the team’s alleged drug ring. He said the suspension resulted from a violation of the school’s conduct code, but he declined to go into more detail

The other three wrestlers could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ricker declined to comment on the nature of the violations.

The suspensions come after the University fired J Robinson, its longtime wrestling coach, last month after an internal investigation found that he obstructed attempts by law enforcement to investigate a drug problem on the team.

An anonymous reporter alerted the University in April to the distribution and abuse of prescription anti-anxiety medication Xanax among team members, launching a months-long investigation by law enforcement and the school.

It’s unclear when school officials knew of a problem, yet evidence suggests an Athletics Department administrator and several staff members knew of at least one wrestler using and selling drugs as early as December 2015 — about three months before a University internal investigation said the department and wrestling coaches became aware of a drug problem on the team.